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VANCOUVER — Teck Resources Ltd. is sitting on a mountain of untapped coal at its Quintette property in northeastern British Columbia, hoping for market conditions to improve and give the project a new beginning.
Quintette supplied metallurgical (or coking) coal to Japanese steel mills from 1982 until it closed in 2000. Today the coal market is all about China, but prices have plummeted in the wake of the country’s slowing growth and ample industry supply.
In June of this year, the B.C. government issued a mining permit to clear the way for Teck to operate an open-pit mine at Quintette, which is forecast to produce three million tonnes a year of metallurgical coal, a key ingredient in the production of steel. But with coal prices down more than 50 per cent over the past couple of years, Teck announced in July that it decided to delay capital spending of $300-million in 2013 and $350-million in the first half of 2014 that had been earmarked for Quintette.
Having watched the corporation nearly collapse during the 2008-09 recession, Teck executives are being cautious in their approach to Quintette.